Neighborhood crime, socioeconomic status, and suspiciousness in adolescents and young adults at Clinical High Risk (CHR) for psychosis





Citation of Original Publication

Vargas, Teresa, Pamela J. Rakhshan Rouhakhtar, Jason Schiffman, Denise S. Zou, Kelsey J. Rydland, and Vijay A. Mittal. “Neighborhood Crime, Socioeconomic Status, and Suspiciousness in Adolescents and Young Adults at Clinical High Risk (CHR) for Psychosis.” Schizophrenia Research 215 (January 1, 2020): 74–80.


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Introduction Contextual factors representing chronic stressors, such as neighborhood crime characteristics, have been repeatedly linked to compromised mental and physical health, and may contribute to the pathologizing of normative/non-clinical experiences. However, the impact of such structural factors has seldom been incorporated in Clinical High Risk (CHR) for psychosis research. Understanding how context can influence the presence or severity of symptoms such as suspiciousness/paranoia may have important relevance for promoting valid and reliable assessment, as well as for understanding ways in which environment may be related to illness development and expression. Methods A total of 126 adolescents and young adults (nCHR = 63, ncontrol = 63) underwent clinical interviews for Clinical High-Risk syndromes. Neighborhood crime indices and socioeconomic status were calculated through geocoding and extracting of publicly available Census and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data. Analyses examined presence of associations between neighborhood crime indices, socioeconomic status, suspiciousness and total symptoms. Results Greater neighborhood crime was related to increased suspiciousness in CHR individuals, even after controlling for neighborhood socioeconomic status, r = 0.27, p = .03. Neighborhood crime was not related to total symptoms, and neither was neighborhood socioeconomic status. Discussion Results suggest neighborhood crime uniquely related to suspiciousness symptoms in CHR individuals, while this was not the case for healthy volunteers (HV). Future work will be critical for determining the extent to which assessors are pathologizing experiences that are normative for a particular context, or rather, if a stressful context is serving as a sufficient environmental stressor to unmask emerging psychosis.